Towards the start of this year I decided that my next trip would either be to Latin America or to Africa, I chose to backpack through Central America, from Mexico down to Panama, but now I’m fulfilling my other wish, Africa.
I was dropped of at the airport an hour and a half before departure and having checked in online (and this being my 18th different airport this year) I sailed through security with no dramas however on the otherwise my plane to Portugal (my gateway to Algeria) flashed up as being half an hour delayed, not a problem but clearly we were on Africa time already.
The flight itself and the subsequent wait at Lisbon Airport were rather uneventful. My flight to Algiers was uneventful but was very interesting to observe that there were more female air hostesses than there were female passengers (4 to 3). About 98% of the people on board the plane were male, most of whom were businessmen and all of them with black hair making my very fair hair stand out.
As per usual I stuck out like a sore thumb as a tourist when I excited into the terminal and immediately had a handful of taxi drivers fighting for my attention and money. After failing to find an atm to withdraw the local currency I agreed with a driver the sum of $10 to take me to my rented apartment (Algeria is yet to hit if big on the backpacker scene and as such has no hostels). He clearly didn’t know where we were going despite me having an address, he seemed more concerned with trying to use him as a currency converter, something I was highly dubious about and tried in my best pigeon French to tell him so. After he had stooped for the third time to ask for directions he rang the apparent owner to get directions, we were only a few streets away but it certainly saved me the hassle and exorbitant cost of ringing had we not found it so I gave the driver a small tip despite taking twice the time we should’ve done.
The place itself was huge, there was a bathroom, fair sized living/dining room and a bedroom with a double bed and being 100m from the sea front, not bad for £30. One of my favourite things to do is explore a city by night so that’s exactly what I did, initially in search of an ATM, which I found, then in search of dinner. I settled on an Italian restaurant and ordered a pizza for £1.42 (yes a whole pizza), I ate watching LA Liga which was playing on a TV. After wandering round for another half an hour or so, including going to the beach (which was filthy), I returned to the apartment.
My initial opinion of the country is it could easily be part of any European Mediterranean country albeit with a strong smell of incense in the air, slightly dirtier and with Arabic on all its signs (French is the second language). A country which undoubtedly has many hidden gems outside the city (it is one of the largest in Africa) and one which very few tourists visit although perhaps should.